The omnibus Federal Farm Bill encompassed a variety of agricultural programs from conservation to food stamps. For ranchers in Southern Arizona, its passage meant the restoration of disaster funding that was unavailable for the past two years.

Some ranchers rely on un-irrigated pasture to feed their herds and drought or fire can eliminate the animals’ main source of food. The restored disaster assistance programs give ranchers funds to purchase additional food or reimburse part of the cost for cattle that die or have to be sold

“Those payments definitely will help offset those costs that we incurred back in those drouthier years and now there is more stability moving forward on those drought scenarios,” said Patrick Bray, an executive vice president of the Arizona Cattleman’s Association.

The U.S. Drought Monitor said 36 percent of Arizona, including large parts of Cochise, Pima, Pinal and Graham counties, currently have severe drought conditions. R

Ranchers and farmers can find out which programs they may be eligible for at their county Farm Service Agency.